In New Orleans' French Quarter, Mardi Gras starts early and runs late, as scantily costumed, heavily intoxicated revelers swing their beads and shake their tail feathers to a zydeco beat. Fat Tuesday, after all, is the last hurrah before Ash Wednesday (also known as the Day I Will Never Drink Again), when devout Catholics and suffering hedonists give up some kind of vice for Lent.
It's not so different here, give or take a few million tourists: Cajun crooner Kenny Menard and the Zydeco Blast will perform and chef David Mahler will cook up Creole treats at the Belle Roux party -- drink specials like Hurricanes and Jell-O shots will be discounted, easing hard-core alcoholics into the day. The party begins at noon at the Belle Roux Louisiana Kitchen, The Cannery, 2801 Leavenworth (at Beach), S.F. Admission is free; call 771-5225.
In the East Bay, Aux Cajunals play live and the poets and musicians of Mardi Gras Mutation do their thing; a parade with minifloats, music, and merrymaking follows. The celebration begins at 1 p.m. at the Berkeley Farmers Market, Derby & Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley. Admission is free; call (510) 548-2220. South of Market bars including the Eagle and My Place host a Leather Mardi Gras Masquerade benefiting local charities, beginning at 6 p.m.; call 255-4663 for more information. And at the Velvet Lounge, the samba and bossa nova beats of Vivendo de P‹o remind us that it's Carnaval time in some parts of the world. They'll open for Zigaboo Modeliste, a founding member of one-time Rolling Stones tourmates the Meters, who demonstrates the fine art of New Orleans funk. The party begins at 8 p.m. at the Velvet Lounge, 443 Broadway (at Montgomery), S.F. Admission is $10; call 242-9940. (Advance tickets available through TicketWeb.com.) For more Mardi Gras events, see the Calendar and Club listings. (